President Muhammadu Buhari has re-nominated Ibrahim Magu for confirmation as chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC.
Multiple sources knowledgeable about the development, including presidency officials, have spoken with PREMIUM TIMES on the re-nomination.
The Senate had in December last year declined to confirm Mr. Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC, ending months of delay and rancorous power-play involving influential senators, the State Security Service, SSS, and officials of the presidency opposed to Mr. Magu’s headship of the agency.
The spokesperson for the Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, at a hurriedly arranged press conference, cited a security report from the SSS for the non-confirmation of Mr. Magu.
PREMIUM TIMES’ findings revealed the SSS actually turned in two reports with contradictory conclusions. Both were submitted same day, October 3, 2016, and signed by one official, Folashade Bello, on behalf of the Director-General, Lawan Daura.
Nevertheless, the claims in the two reports, reviewed by this newspaper, were tied around the principal charge that Mr. Magu seemed tainted, integrity-challenged and, thus, may become a liability to the anti-graft campaign of the Buhari administration.
But a fact-check by this newspaper showed that the SSS’ claims were inaccurate.
After the presidency received formal notice from the Senate on Mr. Magu’s rejection, Mr. Buhari announced he was referring all allegations of corruption against top officials of his government, including Mr. Magu, to the Attorney-General for investigations.
“But contrary to popular belief,” one of our sources said, “the investigation of the claims made against Magu is not just for the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.”
The source said the Vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, played a leading role in the investigation and ended up absolving Mr. Magu of any culpability, morally or legally, and afterwards recommending that he should be re-nominated by the President.
Besides the investigation that involved the Vice-President and the Justice Minister, the presidential advisory council on anti-corruption also undertook a separate task and equally advised Mr. Buhari to re-nominate Mr. Magu, PREMIUM TIMES understands.
Consequently, the President ignored the SSS reports and brushed aside plots to stop Mr. Magu.
Mr. Osinbajo and the Itse Sagay-led anti-corruption advisory council were believed to have categorically advised the President that Mr. Magu’s rejection by the Senate was in bad faith and the SSS’ claims against him were inconsequential.
So, before the President left the country last Thursday for the United Kingdom, he signed off the letter for Mr. Magu’s re-nomination for transfer to the Senate through the Office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, our sources aware of the process said.
But we cannot confirm if the Senate had received the letter as at the time of filing this report. The spokesperson for the Senate, Mr. Abdullahi, did not answer calls or reply a text message.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, referred all questions on the matter to Laolu Akande, Vice President Osinbajo’s spokesperson.
Mr. Akande did not pick calls or reply a text message sent to him.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, insiders said, is personally opposed to Mr. Magu’s headship of EFCC and was one of the key figures that ensured he was rejected earlier.
Mr. Magu, as the head of the EFCC’s economic governance unit, spent years investigating Mr. Saraki yielding loads of ‘evidence’ of corruption and abuse of office during the latter’s tenure as Kwara State Governor, 2003-2011.
Mainly, the evidence the federal government now uses against Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal were from Mr. Magu’s investigative efforts.
To ensure Mr. Magu was rejected, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, Mr. Saraki only disclosed the SSS report that Mr. Magu should not be confirmed, concealing the other that recommended his confirmation.
The former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said his removal earlier this year was instigated by Mr. Saraki over his insistence that Mr. Magu had not been rejected in the face of the Senate’s procedure and standard practice.